As Chancellor Says: "Grab A Hankie"
When Bad Things Happen To Good People (Printable Version , E-mail to a Friend )
by Valerie Stefan
When Shawn Howard
was four years old, he and his father, Don Howard, rebuilt a 1951 Chevy truck. After they rebuilt the engine using "old time" tools, they took it for a spin down a dirt road in rural Oklahoma.
wanted to drive so badly that Don finally agreed. They hopped in the front seat, Don sitting and Shawn
standing behind him, arms wrapped around his dad holding the steering wheel. After getting comfy, Don started the engine and slowly made his way down the dirt road with Shawn’s little four year old hands wrapped around the wheel
"Faster Dad" said Shawn
, until they made their way up to 50 miles per hour with Shawn
instructing when to change gears.
I heard this story while spending time with Shawn's
parents, Don & Kate Howard, this past Saturday, June 26th, at the 5th Anniversary celebration of Deadtown Tavern and Speedshop.
The event featured a car show, a passion of Shawn's
since the trip down that little dirt road 31 years ago. He spent countless hours planning the Anniversary events (all the while eating Taco Bueno burritos) including the car show for Deadtown Tavern
, the Brady District bar he purchased several years ago.
The turnout was fantastic with beautiful hot rods, Harleys, lots of great burnouts, and great music by local original bands. The weather was perfect, and the bar was immaculate.
The only thing missing was Shawn
. He had worked tirelessly for the past 2 years to get the area of Cheyenne and Archer more customer–friendly. To protect his customers, frequently he or another Deadtown staff member would have to ask a peddler or vagrant to leave the property.
asked the city to install street lights in the area for at least 2 years, but it took the city 6 months just to replace a burned-out bulb in the only street lamp in the area. Finally he and a dear friend, Mike Sexton, took it upon themselves to install outdoor lighting around the perimeter of the bar itself making it safer for everyone.
Unfortunately it didn’t make the area safe enough.
At 4:30 am, Thursday, June 24th, Shawn
and bar manager Josh Martin, were having a meeting to finalize the anniversary events beginning the next day. A suspected crack dealer made an appearance and the two close friends chased the man off the property. They then saw another vagrant and asked him to leave, also. The man grabbed a lead pipe and hit Josh in the head, then proceeded to beat Shawn
unmercifully up to 10 more times. Josh struggled with the man with all of his heart until finally the man ran off. He then ran to the bar and told Shayna Krieger, Shawn's
fiancé and Deadtown bartender, to call 911.
Shayna made the urgent call and then ran to find Shawn
lying in a large puddle of blood. She gently held him, talking to him lovingly until the ambulance arrived.
The two men were taken to St. John’s Hospital where Josh received 20 staples in his head and was treated for several other severe wounds. Shawn
was in a coma and on life support through the day and into Friday. At approximately 3:00pm he was pronounced brain dead. The family then had to make the painstaking decision of taking Shawn
, who was only 35 years old, off the life support.
All this because some guy, who didn’t know Shawn
, decided to bludgeon him with a lead pipe. Shawn wasn’t robbed. The man took nothing from his body.
The family knew that Shawn
would never want to be on life support, as he had stated so in the past, so they made the decision that no family should ever have to make.
, the most hardworking, dedicated, loyal, caring person I have ever known, left us all at 4:45 pm, Friday, June 25th.
To those who knew him, Shawn
was the most wonderful person. He was dedicated to his friends, family, staff and to making the Brady District more safe.
Not only was he an enthusiastic supporter of local music, making Deadtown one of the few venues in Tulsa where bands could play original music, he also supported the arts and local theatre.
We as Tulsans need to unite to prevent further senseless heinous crimes.
Deadtown Tavern will remain in full operations, as Shawn would have wanted. Plans are still intact for a remodel and stage expansion.
From the mouth of Shawn's
mother, Kay "Shawn's
spirit is here, and it will continue to be, so his bar will stay open".